Singapore cartoonist arrested for alleged sedition, a symptom of the beginning of the end for LIEgime and its total non-comprehension of political, social and internet reallities
Mr Leslie Chew, 37, the person behind the cartoon strip Demon-cratic Singapore, was arrested by the police on Friday morning (19 Apr) for alleged sedition.
He was held in custody and questioned over the weekend, and was released at 8.45pm on Sunday after posting bail of $10,000.
The police confiscated his handphone, computer and hard disk. He was also asked to surrender his passport to the police at Cantonment Police Complex.
The charges relate to two comic strips published on his “Demon-cratic Singapore” Facebook page. Mr Chew has produced more than 600 cartoons thus far, including those on the page.
The first cartoon, published on 14 December 2012 and titled “Demon-cratic Singapore Episode #438, Eliminating the thorn first…”, was the subject of a letter of demand from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
The AGC, in a letter to Mr Chew on 17 December 2012, said the cartoon “scandalises our Courts through allegations and imputations that are scurrilous and false.”
However, it said it would not commence legal proceedings against Mr Chew if he posted an apology on the page, removed the cartoon and “all accompanying comments” related to the post, which had gathered over 600 likes, shares and comments.
Mr Chew, however, decided not to comply because he said his work is fictional, and is not related to real events or persons, as stated on his Facebook page. On the page, which has 19,000 likes, Demon-cratic Singapore describes itself as a “100% fictional comic series about a country that does not exist”.
In the second cartoon, Mr Chew said the police questioned him about the population statistics in the cartoon, and its words – “Malay population… Deliberately suppressed by a racist government.”
Under Singapore’s Sedition Act, among other things, it is an offence to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government; and to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore.
Anyone found guilty of such an offence can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to three years, or both.
Mr Chew, however, denies any such intentions, again pointing to the disclaimer in each of his cartoons which says that the portrayals in them “are purely fictional”.
“I also explicitly stated that Demon-cratic Singapore is an entirely imaginary country and is not the Republic of Singapore,” Mr Chew says, referring to the page.
The arrest of Mr Chew follows a spate of legal action by members of the Government against online commentators and websites.
In January 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong demanded that writer and activist Alex Au remove his blog posts about Action Information Management (AIM), a $2-PAP-owned company embroiled in a controversy over a PAP-run town councils’ computer system.
And on 18 April 2013, the AGC demanded an apology and the removal of posts from several websites which it alleged cast doubt on the judiciary’s integrity.
Mr Chew, who says that the police were “very professional” in the way they treated him, has been asked to report to the police on 30 April 2013.
“Most fans know that Demon-cratic Singapore is fictional and just for laughs,” said Chew.
“Even when there are new readers who thought otherwise, they are usually quickly reminded by other readers that everything on my Facebook page is fictional.”
* Andrew helms publichouse.sg as Editor-in-Chief. His writings have been reproduced in other publications, including the Australian Housing Journal in 2010. He was nominated by Yahoo! Singapore as one of Singapore’s most influential media persons in 2011.
TR Emeritus has a quid pro quo arrangement with Andrew Loh to reproduce his articles with full credit and has worked together with him on other articles.
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